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Boomkat Product Review:
Originally released in 1968, this debut album by Soft Machine introduced the world to the unique enduring talents of organist Michael Ratledge, bass player Kevin Ayres and perhaps most notably (recent Domino signee) Robert Wyatt. This album was recorded over a four-day period while the band were touring in the USA and features very little in the way of overdubs or post-production. It certainly doesn't sound like a rushed job, however - the album is a staggering listening experience in 2007. The level of musicianship is incredibly high throughout, with each band member an improvising virtuoso in their own right. In that respect, the album might be seen as a precursor to the progressive rock movement that woulf flourish in the early '70s, but there's something more firmly rooted in jazz disciplines here, and the meeting between those aspects and the structure informed by more classic songwriting formats makes for a pretty mindblowing trip. The album is sequenced as though it were one of the band's live sets with songs veering in and out of one another (one of the songs 'Joy For A Toy' is crammed into the middle of 'Hope For Happiness'... if you can work that out) and erupting into jaw-dropping solos. Ratledge's overwhelming talents are especially prominent on this album, with the organ soloing on 'So Boot If At All' sounding like nothing you'd hear in contemporary rock music, it really is enormously impressive. The album as a whole is distinctly otherworldly, and although this is a statement all too often made of reissues, it really is a classic primed for rediscovery. Awesome.